Pete Carroll-Paul Wulff Talk About Saturday's Game At Washington State

Oct. 14, 2008

COACH CARROLL: We find ourselves at the midpoint of the season coming up here, and right in the middle of Pac 10 football, and we're getting ready for a trip to go up to Washington State, a place that's always been difficult to play for all of the natural reasons that occur up there.

I know that they've been struggling a little bit lately here and they're having their issues to overcome getting their program started. As we look at this, we have a lot of stuff to work on this week. We've got a lot of things we've got to work to improve. We've got a whole second half of the season coming up here that we've got to get in order to handle things. We've got ball issues, we've got penalty issues, we've got some situations that we've got to take care of, so we're going to try to keep working really hard at practicing, getting this things ironed out so we can play really good, solid football.

I don't feel like we've played with the kind of consistency that we're capable of in a number of areas, so we're going to try to get these things shored up over the next few weeks and maybe make a big push here. I know Washington State is working through some quarterback situations. It looks like Kevin Lopina is going to come back and play. He's a good looking player with a wide open offense, all kinds of things that they do. He can do it all. He's a runner and a thrower, so we're going to try to get ready for this thing and see if we can put together a good week again.

With that, do you have any questions?

Q. Washington State actually had a pretty good first half last week. Are there things that you're noticing that are causing them to maybe fall apart a little bit?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, they got a lot of turnovers in the early part of that game against Oregon State. They had four picks early on, and they've done they do a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. They have really good schemes. It seems like they haven't been able to hold up they were playing tough in the UCLA game, as well, and they haven't been able to hold up throughout the game.

And they've had a bunch of injury issues. So without Dwight Tardy, he's a really good football player, and if he comes back against us, over the next couple weeks that's going to help them on offense.

They just haven't been able to maintain the same consistency throughout the games, and it catches up with them before it's over.

Q. Is this a week that you focus even more on yourselves than on the other team, considering, look, how do you...
COACH CARROLL: That's how we do this anyway. Our focus is about our own development and our own play and all. We're just going to keep doing what we do. There's a couple things that we're adjusting here in terms of the emphasis for the penalty situations and taking care of the football. We had a terrible game last week in both areas, and so we're going to step up some things there.

But in general, we're focusing on our ability to put our game plan together and do the things we need to do, and we take it to the game by the end of the week. So we're not going to change that at all.

Q. You seemed baffled right after the game about the penalty thing especially. When you looked at the tape, do you see any reason why these things are happening?
COACH CARROLL: No. The ones on defense that have been around the quarterback primarily were hitting him and getting some illegal hits on the QB, and we facemasked him a couple times and things like that. It's been a pretty good onslaught on the quarterbacks. We've had a lot of shots at guys, and we've just been it's a little bit sloppy, it's a little bit unlucky. When you reach out and you're sacking the quarterback and you reach out and grab his facemask, you just have to try to stay away from being up that high. The emphasis is really not to hit the quarterback in the head whether it's with your helmet or with any other part of your body. We're going to try to do some things to try and elevate our awareness so it doesn't happen. We've been in a lot of good positions and had some good things happening, but we lose the chance Clay Matthews had a terrific sack opportunity in the game and gets a facemask and we lose it. We had another one, had him trapped in the backfield and we grabbed the facemask and we got let to let go so we don't get the penalty, which we get anyway, and the guy escapes. So there are some things, I think through awareness and emphasis we can get better at.

I was disappointed because we went after it last week, but we're going after it with more intensity and sense of urgency this time around. We'll see what happens. We definitely have adjusted some to calls that have been made. We've taught our guys about like I've said a couple times about blocking on the perimeter. We've had a number of calls made as the ball was getting outside on the edge and their tackles and their tight ends have been caught reaching a little bit more or a little bit longer than they can. We've learned a lot by that and didn't have those penalties this week, so that's an improvement, but still too many, though.

Q. Can you break down the three interceptions by Mark Sanchez, his execution, routes, and what was happening there?
COACH CARROLL: Well, the ball he threw to Damian (Williams), I mean, it was right to him, and that ball gets intercepted. The ball he threw deep to (Ronald Johnson), he just really, really underthrew it. He underthrew it by 20 yards. He came out, was on the run, and during the week he had thrown that pass on the run, and this time he tried to set his feet quickly because he was so open, and he didn't quite get his balance right and the ball came out lousy.

Some things happen that was a real unusual one. The one to Damian, you can't do anything about that. He threw the ball right to the guy.

We've been pretty clear about the stuff. I think Mark felt a lot better after watching the film than he did before he watched the film. He realized what had happened on some stuff and saw a couple of the drops that we had that changed the momentum and the rhythm and things like that. We hit all that stuff very carefully, and I think he's pretty well schooled in on it now.

Q. With regard to the wildfires, are you or anyone you know affected?
COACH CARROLL: We were asking around the office today to see if any of our guys their families were affected by it at all. Just another terrible situation up there. You listen to the radio on the way in this morning and about all the families that have been relocated in the middle of the night and the whole thing. It's a terrible situation. I don't know. I don't know anything specific about our guys, though, so we're checking in on them, though.

People can come down here and hang around here and stay with us in Heritage Hall. Our players sleep all the floor all the time. If they need a place, we can make room.

Q. Do you live somewhere close that that can happen to yourself?
COACH CARROLL: You mean in the world? Of course it can. It can happen to anyone. It's a fire, dude. Fires can happen to anyone. Yeah, there's some trees around where I live. It could happen (laughter). But right now we're south of there. Yeah, I don't have much experience and background with wildfires.

Q. Your defensive backfield seems to be playing...
COACH CARROLL: Speaking of getting burned? Is that what you're talking about?

Q. Just the opposite. You must be extremely pleased. Did you expect it to be this good?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, we really thought coming in this would be the best group we had because of the depth and the competitiveness and the play making nature of the guys. They've really played well. Last week was really a great indication. One of the best one on one weeks we've ever had where corners were winning and making plays and knocking down balls, and Coach had a great play on a ball, Will Harris had a great play on a ball that ended up getting intercepted. So they're playing well. The rotation has worked out where before Shareece Wright was hurt all four guys were playing so now three guys are playing in the rotation and we're getting great stuff. Kevin Ellison had some great plays on the ball. Just in general, the pass coverage on this game was better than it's been at other times in terms of how close we were to guys in one on one situations.

That's what we were coming into the season hoping to do, and it's kind of rounded into shape pretty well. But that's last week. We've got to do it again.

Q. All the years you've been doing this, my sense is you've been quite successful. Have you ever gone through anything like what Washington State is going through in terms of injuries, getting outscored big every week? How do you stay positive if you're in a situation like that?
COACH CARROLL: Well, back in the old (University of Pacific) days we had some bad runs, and it's a hard challenge for coaches. For coaches it's hard anyway, but when you can't find the way to get the good stuff and the success and the fun, boy, it really checks you out.

You have to be I'm sure Coach is doing a great job of it. You have to be strong, and the guy that holds the faith and the belief where others would wander and all that, you just have to hold the line until things turn.

You know, we've had our I'll give you an example. When we played Arizona in our first year, and I think we were 2 and 5 or whatever we were, that was a low, low time for us now. I remember going to the Arizona stadium on the Friday night before the game, and everybody was just sitting there. It was about 100 degrees at about 5:00 o'clock. They didn't want to do anything. They didn't feel like playing. They didn't feel like doing anything. It looked like we were dead in the water at that time.

I remember the meetings that night, I asked the coaches, whatever you can talk about that can bring tears to your eyes, talk about it, just trying to find some emotion so guys were telling stories about their dead dog when they were growing up as a kid and whatever they could do to get some emotion going.

So it's a time for when it is so hard, you have to find all of the creative ways to keep the focus and to keep guys tuned in and to keep the hope alive. It's a very difficult situation to be in.

Q. The Oregon State game, you mentioned despite...
COACH CARROLL: Speaking of dogs dying (laughter).

Q. Despite all your tricks, that they still came out a little bit flat. Are you doing anything different this time around?
COACH CARROLL: I think that was a very unique situation. I think coming off the game before, I think, was as much as we tried to deal with it and handle it and put it in the right perspective and treat it normally, I don't think it carried that impact. The Ohio State game carried a lot more than that. We didn't handle it well.

We didn't realize the affect. We tried to go through the steps that we go through. So I think that's a unique situation.

But every week coaches are challenged by the fact that you have to find that level. You can go out and play and then you can go out and compete and battle, and there's a fine line between the difference there. But when you have it, you have it, when you don't, you don't, and we've seen that. And we have to make sure and ensure the steps that we take that everybody is tuned in, everybody is ready to play with the right intensity and the iron and the commitment and all the things that it takes to perform at your best.

You saw a gleaming example of a team in our first half up there a few weeks ago that wasn't right, and then even though we kicked into it, it was too late. The last couple weeks we've been on it. We played really hard the last two weeks. We haven't played great all the time, but we've played really hard with the kind of intensity that gets you wins and brings out the best in you.

If we have any chance to have a good season, we've got to find a way each week to generate this. This is a different challenge. It's a challenge against a team that's struggling and we've got to make sure and respect the game, respect this opportunity, and bring that sense of awareness and urgency to the game, and then everything will be fine.

But you never know, and that's what coaching is all about, and it's one of the most difficult challenges. I've heard people say, well, that's 18 and 19 year olds.

I just talked to a guy at the Redskins this morning that talked about coming off their two big wins they had, Giants, Eagles. They come back against a struggling St. Louis team and they can't find a way to play, no matter what they do. They even get back ahead and lose the lead again to them. It just happens.

It's most common in sports. That's why you guys always ask those questions and that's why we always try to be different than normal, but sometimes it gets us. Not this week.

Q. You continue to be unamazed by the upsets in college football
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, it just happens. Maybe you guys will stop being amazed, too. Just because you win a bunch of games in the beginning of the year, you win three or four, it doesn't say anything about what's coming up. It's how do you go the next week.

These settings right now, whatever, the polls are showing right now, they're going to change. They're going to shift all around. They're going to be somebody is going to be shocked, and there's enormous match ups coming up in our conference, and I know everybody else has those in their conferences, as well. You've got to wait.

It's okay if you don't mind being wrong. Tell us who you think is going to win. But you're going to get knocked around for quite a while, and I don't know how you could ever know. If you did, don't ever tell anybody and bet on it because you have something special, because it's something that I don't think you can predict it right now. It's going to be interesting to see.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Washington State head coach Paul Wulff

Opening statement

'First of all, we knew coming in here and with the change of staffs and the way the program was headed that the school decided they needed a change. We are part of that change and we have come into a situation where we have tried to change the culture. We are working hard. There is a lot of change and sometimes with change, it doesn't run that smoothly initially. I knew that, but we had to set down our philosophy. Along the way, we have had a lot of injuries and we have a lot of young players playing and the combination isn't good for us. This team will grow and we will bounce back and build our program to be one of the competitive teams again.'

On quarterback situation

'We believe that Kevin Lopina will be back playing for us this week. We lost Marshall Lobbestael to a season-ending knee injury with an ACL and MCL tears, who started for us as a freshman in the last three games. It was very unfortunate for us because we felt good about Marshall and his potential as a player so it was unfortunate for his development and our team. Now, we are sitting with Kevin coming off an injury and we are hoping he can help us.'

On Kevin Lopina

'He is from De La Salle High and originally went to Kansas State after high school and after a year, transferred here to Washington State. He has some athletic ability and throws the ball well and he has been in a winning program all through high school. He sat out one year because of an injury so this is really his first year of playing any type of football at the collegiate level. He got two starts in before he got hurt. He is very inexperienced as a player as well, but he is a junior and has played in some games this year so hopefully he will give us a spark this weekend.'

On offense

'(Tailback) Dwight Tardy is still questionable for this week. He's got a knee that has been irritating to him that he can overcome, but he just has a little swelling so he is questionable over whether he will be ready this week. (Wide receiver) Brandon (Gibson) started off the season well and has tailed off a bit last week. He needs to pick it up and play a little bit better. He's capable, but at the same time we have struggled on offense in all the spots so it has clearly affected his production which I know is frustrating to him and all of us. We just have to work through it when we have tough times.'

On defense

'I feel at times we have done some good things. Our offense has been poor enough where we have stressed our defense way more than any other defense, meaning they have been on the field way too long. It has hurt our defense. At the same time, we still could do some things better. We have some youth in spots. We have done some good things, but we haven't responded as well as we would like when are in adverse situations like the offense turning the ball over. We need to do a better job responding to adversity.'

On returning to coach at his alma mater

'It's tough. As a coach, you never want to go through a season like this. It's a first for me. I have never been through anything quite like this with this scenario. At the same time, I also have to be realistic and realize that's how the season is going. The program had dipped a little bit and we are working on the upswing of the nuts and bolts of our program and what we have to do on a daily basis to get ourselves better as a program. I'm very confident that we are heading in that direction and we are doing that. It's just not showing up on the field right now because of a lot of reasons. You just have to keep looking ahead, looking at the future and keep recruiting hard. You have to do the things that will enable your program to grow and that part is very exciting for me to go to work every day. It's great knowing that we are going to make a lot of progress as we continue to move forward.'

On playing USC this week

'Obviously, we are facing one of the best teams in the country. It's a very experienced team, particularly on defense. They have some outstanding players. They have players across the board that are talented. It's a team that is very balanced on offense. They are well-coached and a very quality football team. You have to be on your best game and you have to catch them playing a bad football game to be able to be in the game. That's about where we are at and that's where most people will be at in order to have a chance to beat them.'

On USC's play against big underdogs

'No, we haven't talked about those yet. It's something we will probably talk about a bit as we move on through the week. I think all things are possible, I'm a believer in that. I think our kids have to understand that and believe it if they go out and play and have a chance to be in the ballgame. They have to go out and execute it.'

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